Riding in the sand

Just got back from a four day trip out in the Utah desert, the WR450 was fantastic but when we got in the sand wash's it was all over the place. It would follow every rut in the sand and it seemed to wash out in corners more than knife in. I have my forks slid all the way down so they are even with the tops of the triple clamps, is that too far down? would it help to bring them up or would that just make it worse? What about compression damping on the forks? or rear sag, Anybody got any advice

I forgot to ask about a front tire, do they really make much difference in sand.?

Front tire makes all the difference in the world. The stock 739 sucks in the sand.

In the soft sand you want to make the compression up front stiffer. And you may want to lower the pre sag in the rear about 5 mm, since the WR 450 is prone to be a little front heavy. (assuming your at stock settngs) :)

I'm not sure how much san riding you have done but if you think the 450 is unstable you should try a KTM, they are all over the place in loose sand. I ride in Baja 6 months a year and the Yamaha is very stable only bike that's more stable is an XR650 but they don't turn as well. Check your air pressures, 12 to 15 lbs would be good and still save the rims, of course you need to make sure the sag is correct, front forks all the way down should help, not hurt. Do you have a steering damper? Highly recommended especially in the sand. I find these bikes to be very stable in the sand, I have more trouble in tight single track, woods stuff because of the big mid-range hit comes at the wrong time once in a while. Good Luck!! :D:):D

I don't think fork height will make much of a difference in how you ride specifically in the sand, but your riding style and type of tires will. All we have in Florida is sand. Well, OK, there's some hard clay occasionally...

Good sand tires like S12s, Dunlop 773, etc., help a lot. Also, when you're in sand, you have to stand up, keeping your feet on the pegs and letting the bike float under your body. Run a gear lower than you normally would at the same speed on harder surfaces to keep the sand from bogging the motor down. You need to be able to keep the front end up and planing over the sand. Center your weight forward and back on the bike. The forward attack position riding style will only work if you're charging hard. As soon as you let off on the throttle the front end will knife in. To counteract that, you have to have your weight centered or a little rear of center. If you are slowing down a lot, hang your butt over the rear fender as you do so. Turning in the sand is tricky because if you put too much weight forward, it will knife in and too far back it will wash out. When turning, sit down, lean your upper body back but still throw your inside leg forward. This will weight the front for turning but still keep the majority of your weight centered so it won't knife in. It sounds tricky and it is. I still goof up from time to time. The good part is that sand is soft so you don't get hurt as bad when you crash in it.

I was reading the other post call "best desert tire" sounds like a lot of them like the Maxxis IT front tire for sand, a guy I know that has raced desert for years swears by the Bridgestone ED11. I want a tire thats good in sand, wears forever and doesn't chunk off in rocks, gimme some feed back boys.

A good sand tire that wears forever and wont chunk off in the rocks????? Good luck.

I used a maxxis on my 426 in Baja and it really seemed better than the 739. The advise about how you ride in the sand will help you more than all these tech tips if you follow it.. Basically :) your front tire is rarely on the ground very hard when your in the sand, no tire will steer in sand when it digs in. Good Luck, keep your weight back over the rear wheel most of the time....

If you really want a difference run a 20 inch front tire. The other choice is a steering damper.

If your style is wrong, the tires won't matter and if it's right you won't need to worry about them. Yes, some tires are better than others but unless your spending most of your time in sand don't worry about em.

Riding in sand is almost the opposite from what your used too.

Keep your weight OFF the front end and steer with the back end (throttle) as much as possible. Also, keep your speed up so your front wheel skims over the surface.

As for how the WR is in sand... it's not bad. The WR is kind of a neutral handler. Longer slower turning bikes are best and quick turning bikes are worst. (the opposite is the case for woods riding) My old XR200R (old tall version) steered on a dime... and could give you major tank slappers in sand if you weren't careful!!!

I had a similar experience with my WR450. I just put a new steering stabilizer, triple clamp and pro taper bars on mine. I rode last weekend in the SoCal desert. These items make the WR450 handle much better - in fact it's dramatic, especially in sand. The cost of these items is well worth the gain in handling.

If you really want a difference run a 20 inch front tire.

Eww. I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with you there. If you think your bike hunts a bit with a 21 a 20 will only make it worse. The larger meat will float more instead of sticking in a rut.

The Dunlop 756 is a very good sand tire and won't chunk knobs off very easily.

As for the rut chasing and line-hunting, those are just the facts of life when riding in sand. That is all I ride in, and I still have problems with that. You really need to concentrate on holding your line, using body english, brakes and throttle, and looking ahead to your next line.

As for turning in sand it probably requires more weight transfer and upper body man-handling than the terrain you are more used to. Turning in sand is just plain hard, but turning in sand with a Dunlop 739 is just plain frustrating. That tire is worthless in the sand.

Hope this helps.

So, how do you make a bike turn on hard pack (in case I ever need to know this)? :)

I was riding up north here in michigan last week and the trails were all sand. The best tire I have ever used in the soft stuff is the Dunlop 773. We would come up to a very sandy corner and all my friends on there KTMs were putting there feet down to try and stay stable. My YZ450F was so stable I never had to, I just rode right through it. Hope this helps. :)


Try a 20 inch if you get a chance. Theory and reality are two different animals.

I really like my setup in sand.

Oh, I have tried a 20 inch, not on my bike however. It was an '01 CR 250. It was very confidence inspiring on hard pack, bike really felt planted. But in sand the front floated and darted everywhere.

I rode the same bike with a 21" on there and the stock (read: crappy in sand) front tire, and it was 1,000% better than the 20. The larger tire seemed to float over the top so it wouldn't hold a line. I suppose I didn't have time to get used to it, but I'd definitely say that my 20 minute impression was "Ewwwww."

I will say that it was a very, very noticeable difference. It totally transformed how the bike handled.

Tire, technique, and skill (experience) make it or break it for me.

I love getting in a wash and racing with my buddies. On the slower trails, it takes a lot of work. Tire, suspension, air pressure and riding position and fatigue really make a difference.

We ride miiiiillles of sand all the time out here. Especially after a good wind storm. :):D

Thanks guys for all the info. :) I think I'am going to invest in steering damper and a new front tire, then go practice all the tecniques mentioned.

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